Last Thursday’s General Election provided a remarkable result resulting in the third hung Parliament in Britain’s history. The Conservative Party remains the largest party in Parliament, meaning Theresa May remains Prime Minister following the “confidence and supply” agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party that is likely to be formally agreed in the coming days. We look at the results and consider the consequences for education and SEND…
The Conservative Party 318 Seats (-12)
The Labour Party 262 Seats (+30)
Scottish Nationalist Party 35 Seats (-21)
Liberal Democrats 12 Seats (+4)
Democratic Unionist Party 10 seats (+2)
May is short of the 326 seats needed for a majority by 8 seats, the Northern Irish DUP are close to a confidence and supply agreement, whereby May could rely on their support on crucial pieces of legislation such as the Queen’s Speech in exchange for concessions.
The DUP would be a natural ally to the Tories as the two align on their economic and Brexit positions. The BBC have profiled who the DUP are here.
With regard to education, the DUP are a supporter of grammar schools, given that selective education is a much more common part of the educational framework in Northern Ireland.
However, despite this support a wide number of reports over the weekend suggest that the grammar school policy is likely to be dropped as the political environment and parliamentary arithmetic stacks against May. Furthermore, the resignation of the PM’s senior advisor, Nick Timothy, one of the strongest advocates of the return of selection appears to be another nail in the coffin. In the meantime, the support for grammars will continue from parts of the Tory benches and our campaign highlighting their impact on SEND Learners goes on!
Elsewhere, the DUP’s website proclaims their vision to give “every child the opportunity to succeed.” On SEND, the party’s manifesto highlighted their desire for better early diagnosis and intervention – furthermore, they state: “we will work to build upon the commitments of the SEND Act 2016 to ensure better and more timely co-ordination between education and health professionals, effective pupil tracking at school transfer and more specific training for classroom assistants and SENCOs.”
A key issue that dominated the education campaign was school funding and potential cuts that would have to be made due to the national funding formula. Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers union, said: “I think we have to say the NFF is off the table for the foreseeable future. It would have required a very strong and committed government to make it work.” Nonetheless, the funding issue will remain at the forefront of the education agenda
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The vote delivered the most diverse House of Commons ever with a rise in the number of women, LGBT, ethnic minority and disabled MPs elected.
Labour has two new MPs in the Commons who have disabilities. Marsha de Cordova, the new MP for Battersea, is registered blind & used her victory speech to champion disabled rights. Jared O’Mara, who has cerebral palsy hemiparesis, defeated former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Scope’s chief executive Mark Atkinson said it was encouraging to see an increase in the number of disabled politicians elected: “whilst there is more work to do, this is a positive step forward in combating the under-representation of disabled people in public life.”
We await the formal agreement between the Conservatives and DUP. The agenda in Parliament is as follows: